Farmers ordered to pay back wages over COVID-19 quarantines

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Three area farmers have been ordered to pay more than $11,000 in back wages after denying paid sick leave to employees who were advised to self-quarantine following potential COVID-19 exposure. The Statesman Journal reports the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division ordered Coleman Agriculture in Gervais to pay seven employees $8,878; St. Joseph Orchard Inc. in McMinnville to pay four employees $1,820 and J Farms LLC to pay one employee $720. The paid sick leave is required by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act gives tax credits to businesses with fewer than 500 employees for employee paid leave for the employee’s health needs or to care for family members. It wasn’t immediately known if the farmers can appeal the order.